Herbert prided himself on being bothered by little to nothing. After all he had discovered the cure to death, albeit there were still some kinks and bugs to work out of the formula. When Dr. Hill had nearly killed him in the morgue it hadn’t phased him one bit, when Dan had left him to die in their shared home that hadn’t bothered him either. Nothing got to Herbert, he prided himself on that, because he trained himself to be this way.
This was a strong belief of his until he was in the middle of the cemetery doing what he considered quite routine. He was sorting through two fresh graves, apparently, a young married couple had just days ago, been involved in a head-on collision, quite a shame he supposed. The bride had died on impact, her husband on the other hand had died much more slowly. According to the reports in the newspaper the bodies were for the most part intact, they were perfect for his more routine experiments. He had promised himself shortly after escaping death himself and after Dan’s departure that he would spend less time playing around with dead parts creating monsters and more time focusing on the main goal.
A normal man would feel deep shame for doing what Herbert was doing as he pried open the lid to the bride’s coffin, but he felt no shame. He gave a quick glance over her body; he held a flashlight in his left hand carefully guiding the beam of light over her features. There was bruising that was visible through the makeup that was supposed to make her appear more asleep than dead, he knew her as a whole was practically useless, but she had parts. No, he would not make a monster like he had done before, but her parts could match up with other parts he kept in the freezer in the basement. He had promised to himself to focus and focus was what he planned on doing.
He set the flashlight to the side and knelt, he placed his hands beneath her armpits and carefully dragged the woman’s body up. He knew as he struggled lifting her dead weight that coming alone wasn’t the greatest of ideas, but his partner had been nowhere to be found. Dan had been a tad bit more dependable, even if he hadn’t always been all that willing to help Herbert with the dirty work or the experiments themselves, at least he was there when Herbert needed him the most.
Then of course there would be a girl with thick locks of hair and soft fair skin, eyes full of light and wonder and innocence. Then Herbert would be forgotten, Dan would stop seeing their work as a miracle of science and begin telling the smaller man how sick and unnatural all of this was. Yes, it was better off not having Dan around, much better.
Herbert gave another try at pulling the woman from her coffin, this time he stopped, because of the sound of crunching gravel.
“Shit” he muttered to himself as he hunkered down in the grave hoping that whoever was approaching would go away.
He listened intently trying to judge the distance of the crunching, he awaited the sweep of a flashlight over the area, but there was none. Normally a cop or a caretaker would yell out if anybody was there, tell him to come out with his hands raised above his head, but there was none of that.
Then he realized who it could be and all prior anxiety left his small frame as he lifted himself from the corner he had curled into. He had wondered previously if Addy would come to join him or if he was just off doing whatever it was he did. Herbert never knew how to pinpoint what his new partner was doing or where he was or what he was feeling, most times he seemed to only know how to communicate through eye rolling and sarcasm. Neither a thing that Herbert found charming, he told him time and time again that his behavior was adolescent at best and at worst just rather idiotic. The comments never seemed to bother him though, he’d just roll his eyes again, or leave the room allowing Herbert to continue ranting to himself.
It was a wonder that he even showed up now to help, perhaps he felt bad, or he was feeling concerned.
Herbert hauled himself up out of the grave ready to thank or lecture the other man, but instead found himself face to face with somebody completely different.
There were three of them, to a degree they looked like Addy. Their eyes shone in the darkness with a faint glow, a gleam that reminded him of a wolf on the hunt. There was a point to their ears, their skin abnormally pale, and the man closest to him bared his teeth revealing pointed fangs. Fangs like the ones that Herbert knew far too well, ones he permitted to be sunken into his neck some nights.
“Who are you?” He asked taking a step back away from the three of them as they stalked towards him.
There was no answer other than a hiss from the dark-haired man in the back of their three-man pack.
Herbert attempted to hold his ground, he glared at them and wondered if he could take them on. There was a small scalpel in the pocket of his pants, he slowly slipped his hand in grabbing onto the handle of the blade. The three of them seemed more bemused than anything when he pulled the scalpel out holding it in front of himself like a grand weapon. The one nearest to him lunged forward grabbing Herbert by the wrist and twisting hard enough to send sharp shooting pain through his arm.
He cried out in pain and dropped the knife to the ground, a moment later he was being thrown hard to the ground. He felt weight settling on his stomach, there was a hand on his throat gripping tightly, sharp nails were cutting into his skin and he could feel the warmth of his blood rolling over his skin. Herbert kicked and tried to buck the creature off him, but his small build prevented him from knocking the much larger man off him.
There was one thing that he hated and that was feeling helpless. He had flashbacks of his childhood, of days his drunken brute of a father would smack him across the face, throw him to the floor, or beat him with his belt. So many times, he would kick and scream and struggle, but he had been seven years old and he had been too tiny to really do much about the abuse. Even when he hit his teen years he couldn’t do much other than run away time and time again.
Now here he was at twenty-seven years of age on the cold hard ground in the middle of a cemetery while some demonic brute was choking the life out of him. Death frightened him and he admitted his fear of this to himself only, dying like this petrified him.
Breathing was becoming near impossible, he heard more growling and even more hissing from the creatures gathered around him. He supposed they would feed on him, he thought about Addy and the times they sat together on Herbert’s bed. He’d bite his lip until it bled to keep from groaning or hissing in pain when the long-haired man would bite into his neck. It always hurt initially and it hurt when he got a bit too carried away, but he knew he was holding back, and that he didn’t mean to hurt him.
It slowly dawned on him that the creature he was sharing a home with was one of these, like the beast perched upon his chest choking the life out of him while growling in his face.
Suddenly the pressure on his throat was being pulled away, claws raked his neck before disappearing completely. The growling grew in intensity, Herbert found himself coughing as the cool night air burned his lungs with each labored breath. He placed his hand against his throat feeling the sticky warmth of his blood, his skin stung. He managed to pull himself into a sitting position as he watched the new scene before him.
He saw a familiar figure throw the brute that had been attacking him to the ground. Normally he’d feel smug or irritated by the horribly late timing, but now he found himself quiet and almost in shock. He was familiar with shock, he found himself unable to speak or move. He watched as the creature he knew very well tear apart the others. Herbert for the most part always saw Addy as a person, perhaps for his own vaguely existing sanity or because he didn’t want to grasp a concept that seemed childish. He noticed more now than he did even when they first met how very nonhuman the other man was. The sharpness of his bared fangs, the length of his claws, the red tint to his very dark nearly black brown eyes. He growled like an animal as he tore into the chest of the man who moments prior had nearly killed Herbert.
Violence and death didn’t faze Herbert, not one bit. They were such a natural part of his day to day life that he was absolutely numb to these things, sometimes he even found himself addicted to it, but in this moment, he felt none of that. He felt fear.
He watched as Addy turned on the other two, both of which were now trying to escape the area realizing they had made a fatal mistake. It took no time for him to kill them, he put so little effort into lifting them off the ground, breaking their bones, tearing into their flesh. He left the three bodies discarded on the ground, he got to his feet and stared down at them, he snarled at them before turning his rapt attention on Herbert.
Herbert who was just now regaining feeling in his legs. He felt he should get up and he should run, he shouldn’t be here with him, with it.
He didn’t get the time though, the taller man was faster, and in a moment, he was grabbing Herbert by the arm and roughly pulling him to his feet. He stumbled and nearly fell only being held up by the death grip Addy had on him.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing out here?”
Herbert attempted to pull out of his grasp, but he felt nails dig into his skin much like the ones that had dug into his neck.
“You’re hurting me, let me go. This is ridiculous.”
“Answer me, what the hell are you doing here alone? They were going to rip you to shreds, you realize that, don’t you?”
“Yes, I am very aware of what they were planning, now let me go. Please.”
More memories of his father, being pulled by his arm so hard that it would be dislocated. He thought of the nails digging into his arm and how normally he welcomed Addy scratching down his back or sides when they were alone together in their shared home. He never thought much of it, never thought much of the supernatural glow to his eyes, the sharpness of his teeth, or his lack of a beating heart. Herbert had seen him as simply a person who he could fix, he could cure.
Now he just felt fear, perhaps irrational, but he couldn’t convince his intense anxiety of this.
“I told you to let go of me.” Herbert demanded again, he used his free hand to shove against the taller man’s chest trying to get him out of his personal space.
The look of rage in his eyes seemed to fade and switch into a more human emotion, a look of confusion took over his features followed by regret as he released Herbert’s arm and respectfully took a step back.
“I-I didn’t mean that, shit I’m sorry.”
Addy took a step towards him again, he reached out with the intent of gently caressing the marks on his partner’s arm, but Herbert jerked away from him.
“Stay away from me”
“Stay back, I don’t want you near me.”
“Herbert, what the hell is going on with you, I told you I’m sorry. I just lost it for a second, I’m sorry you know I wouldn’t hurt you on purpose.”
Herbert knelt and picked the scalpel up from the ground, he held it out knowing it wasn’t the best weapon, but he was shaky and panicking and it was the best he had within reach. He felt the warmth of tears rolling down his cheeks as he continued to back away from the other man.
“I’ll do it, stay away from me.”
Addy stopped and watched as Herbert turned and ran off back towards where his car was parked at the gates.
Even as he got into his car and made the short drive back home he knew that Addy would be following him, he knew he would think that within an hour or so that Herbert would be over what just happened, but that wasn’t the case.
The moment that he got inside the house he broke off one of the legs of the coffee table, he retrieved a knife from the kitchen and went to work carving one end of the leg into a fine point. By the time he was finished was about the time that Addy showed up thinking all would be forgotten or they could at least drink and fuck until it was forgotten.
Herbert opened the front door to see the long-haired man standing on the porch looking him over like he was a frightened animal he was figuring out how to catch.
“You’re a vampire, aren’t you?”
Addy laughed at the question, at how dumb it was.
“I told you this a thousand times, I’ve told you that since literally the first time we met when I planned on killing you. What’s up with you?”
“The ones back there, they were vampires as well weren’t they?”
“Yeah, they were, what’s going on?”
Herbert tightened his grip on the stake he kept hidden behind his back.
“So, if you just lose control again or I do something to upset you, are you going to kill me?”
“No of course not, you know I would never do that to you. I wouldn’t hurt you, I would never do that to you. I told you already that I didn’t mean to grab you like that, I shouldn’t have done that.” He tried to reason as he took a step forward.
Herbert took a step back and Addy paused noticing how tense the smaller man’s body was with fear. He absolutely wreaked of it, he was scared out of his fucking mind and it was the first time he ever sensed it on Herbert.
“So, every story is true about vampires and other hell beasts?”
“Which means I can uninvite you from my home, I just have to tell you so.”
“You are no longer welcome into my home. If you try to come near me I will kill you.”
Addy smirked, he moved towards him again, this time he stopped when Herbert revealed the stake that he had hidden behind his back. He gently pressed the point of it against his chest, the threat of it was blood chilling and heart breaking. He looked from the wooden weapon placed near his heart then up into the eyes of the man who now regarded him with sheer terror.
He lifted his hands up in surrender as he took several steps back, he watched as Herbert shut and locked the door.
“You can’t be serious!”
With a growl he kicked the door, not hard enough to break it. Even if he broke the door in half he wouldn’t be able to enter the house, his house, their house. The home where his clothes and his jewelry and his stash of booze was kept. The house with the bed that he shared with the man who just now banished him.
He slammed himself against the door, fists and claws hitting and digging against the black painted wood.
“You fucking promised me you would never be scared of me, you told me I didn’t scare you!”
“Let me in, Herbert open the fucking door. What you didn’t just take my word for it when I told you I’m a monster? You were supposed to be different, you weren’t supposed to see me this way.”
From inside the house, he could hear crying and heavy breathing. He leaned his forehead against the door, this wasn’t getting him anywhere. If anything, he was frightening him more than he already was.
“I’m sorry, please don’t do this. I need you, please don’t fucking leave me out here like this.”
Before Herbert he never cared one bit about what he was. He prided himself in it, in the idea of near immortality, forever physically being thirty, never having to worry about age or disease. He by all means minus lack of a soul was superior and ideal perfection, but then he met the smaller man and it all got fucked. He began longing for the days of humanity, of breathing, and crying. The things he hadn’t been able to do in so many centuries.
He silently stood and listened to Herbert crying on the other side of the door. He almost considered telling him it was fine if he wanted to stake him. He’d defeated the man who sired him, killed a slayer, and here he was wanting to be killed by somebody he was falling in love with.
He needed to leave, nothing he would say or do was going to make this any better or make him less fearful. Addy turned away from the door and left heading back towards the cemetery.
Herbert against better judgement had fallen asleep on the floor slumped with his back against the front door. He woke with a pain in his neck, another in his back, the wooden stake was still in his hand. For a second he couldn’t recall what had happened or why this was his chosen resting place. A moment later the memories of the previous night flooded his mind, he remembered the body he was trying to retrieve, the group of vampires, and of course Addy.
Thinking about him felt odd, it normally did. Just this time it was a very different type of odd, he didn’t know how to pinpoint it, Herbert for as long as he could remember was never quite good when it came to emotion whether it be those of himself or another person. There was a tension in the pit of his stomach when he remembered what happened, the blood soaking the taller man, the red glow to normally close to human looking eyes. Addy had told him time and time again that he wasn’t human, not completely human. For whatever reason Herbert found he couldn’t accept this, he didn’t believe in Hollywood magic or the boogeyman, he believed in hard facts and science. If vampires existed then that meant they were dead humans who to one extent was alive, but their human soul no longer existed, it was long ago replaced with a demonic soul. That was where a blanket of fear came over him, as a child his grandparents who he often stayed with often told him about God and about Hell.
Those stories petrified him when he was a boy, he’d stay up all night tossing and turning fearing demons in the closet waiting for his innocent soul. With age, with reading, and with going over the mathematical possibility of God he found it was all rubbish. God wasn’t real and neither was the Devil.
It turned out that he was wrong and there was something in that, that terrified him. He feared what waited him in death, he felt odd about his relationship with the apparent vampire he’d shared a bed with for some time now.
Herbert carefully dragged himself up from the floor, on unsteady feet he made his way into the bathroom.
His reflection per expected was horrid, he took a moment to really look himself over. His white dress shirt was torn in places, it was stained with his blood, the blood of the brute of a vampire who had initially attacked him. There was dirt and mud soaking through the material leaving it utterly ruined. With shaking fingers, he unbuttoned it, slipped it off and tossed it into the trash can that sat between the sink and the toilet. Bruises and cuts marked his chest and over his right side, he could feel a heavy pain in nearly every inch of his body. The marks on his arm and the ones around his neck were a dreadful sight that made him feel physically ill. Quite delicately he touched the marks on his neck, the little cuts and the finger shaped bruises that circled his throat like a morbid choker. The marks on his arm hurt him the most, physically they didn’t hurt too much.
It was the memory that bothered him more than anything as he idly trailed his index and middle finger over the markings left by a creature he almost thought of as a boyfriend.
Herbert laughed to himself, only he would begin to fall in love with some damned creation. He vaguely remembered the bride he had created, the one for Dan and himself. She was the only way he could get close enough to Dan, close enough to fully be let in and to convince him to stay; their girl was the only reason Dan would stay with him. When he thought over it he realized he didn’t need any sort of tool or trap to convince Addy to stay with him, he stayed willingly, even the times he seemed absolutely enraged by Herbert’s attitude.
So, what was the hang up?
As he thought over it he realized the vampire never had ill intent towards him. Not since their first encounter, it had taken little to nothing to convince him to follow Herbert back home so he could further study him. Currently this all festered in his brain like a disease, he felt an aching in his skull. This entire situation was giving him a hell of a migraine, just exactly what he needed on top of his other physical ailments. He wanted to blame Addy for it, but it really was his own damned fault he was in this situation to begin with.
There was one way Herbert knew was a positive solution to clearing his mind, dulling his pain, and making him less emotional so he’d be capable of clearer thinking. Of course, it was something that Addy generally complained about, but he wasn’t around and depending on what Herbert decided on depended on if he would be around ever again.
Herbert exited the bathroom and went to his bedroom, in a box shoved beneath the bed he found syringes and a bottle containing the glowing green liquid of his re-agent.
When Dan had found out about this he had been angry, close to disgusted. When Addy had found out he’d been curious, but also agitated that Herbert was injecting a barely stable drug into his veins. Not that he could really blame either of them for finding this unethical and extremely dangerous, because it was.
He felt a slight unease as he tied off, tapped for a vein, and then carefully sunk the needle into his skin. He watched as the medicine went from the needle into his vein, he could feel a tingling followed immediately after by a burning. His body tensed and shook before he fell against the mattress feeling almost completely numb. The new sense of numbness was inviting, there was still the feeling of occasional currents surging through his body, the surges made it feel as if he would never need sleep again. Each time that he used the drug he felt a different reaction, some days he was calm when he used it and others it set him into over drive making him spend days on end with no food or sleep, just working away in his lab. That was what he had done after Dan had left him, he shot up with his re-agent and spent weeks alone in his lab forgetting himself completely, and then he had found a long-haired vampire in a cemetery.
Herbert looked down at his injured arm, he looked at the marks Addy had left on his skin, he looked at the blooming dark bruise where the injection site was. The finger shaped marks bothered him, the knowledge that Heaven and Hell existed bothered him twice as much.
Being alone though….This was alarmingly strange. It used to be that Herbert was fine with being alone, fine with the quiet that was only broken by the groans and moans of his living dead down in the basement. Now he was lying on his bed missing the cool feel of a body that was caught somewhere between life and death.
What a silly idea to think he could cure something like that, he could hardly cure death. There had been nothing to cure, nothing to fix, and in retrospect treating his partner like a lab experiment might have been wrong. He pondered for a moment if it was wrong to have sex with the creature he was studying or if it was wrong to study the man who screwed him in the kitchen every other morning.
Another laugh, another hollow sound that left his throat burning. If Addy didn’t come back on his own tonight then Herbert would go out and look for him, he had a safe bet on the type of place the immortal being would go off to brood. It was shocking how much of a predictable creature of habit his partner could be, he was grateful for routine.
For now, he allowed himself to lounge on his bed and stare at the bruises that littered his bicep, childhood memories whirled through his minded leaving him with tear stained cheeks. By the time this high ended and the crying stopped it would be night once more.